Yeri Katha Ramar Temple, Maduranthakam, Kanchipuram – Legends
Story behind the name Eri Katha Ramar:
The name of Sri Kothandaramar here came to be popularly known as Eri Kaatha Ramar because of an interesting incident happened during the British rule here. During the period between 1795 and 1799 the Collector of Chengalpattu district was a British officer called Colonel Lionel Blaze. During his collectorship, Blaze had witnessed two breaches to the huge tank. The enormity of the problem can be appreciated only when we know of the massive size of the tank. Having an area of 13 square miles (34 km2) and a depth of 21 feet (6 m), the breaching of the tank following torrential downpour was any official's nightmare.
Wanting to take preemptive action in the year 1798 the Collector camped in Madurantakam. During his sojourn the Collector was exploring ways and means to undertake urgent repairs of the breaches if and when they happened. During the course of his inspections, he happened to see a large collection of granite and other stones in the precincts of the Rama temple. The Collector mentioned to his subordinates that these could be put to use in restoration of the bunds. Hearing this temple priests submitted that the stones were meant for constructing a separate shrine for Janakavalli Thayar and since there was paucity of funds the construction could not commence.
Hearing this Collector is said to have remarked that was the need for a separate shrine when more urgent work like repairing the bunds was crying for resources. Blaze told the priests that if Sri Rama protected the village from the lake during the storms of the year, he himself would build the shrine for Sri Janakavalli Thaayaar at his cost. Saying this, he went back in a hurry without even having Dharshan of the deities.
Colonel tried to strengthen the lake bund with his resources but was not confident about the strength of the bund. The storms began to show in the village with heavy winds and strong pouring of rains. Rain continued for days together without any signs of stopping. The water began to rise in the lake and on one day reached up to the bund level. Blaze expected a calamity to occur. But as the collector of the district, he went out to see the water level of the lake so that he can take some precautionary measures. He took one of his servants with him holding an umbrella and went near the lake.
On seeing the water filled lake, he got worried about handling the calamity which could happen anytime then. While he was thinking worriedly, he watched two young, well-built men going around on the banks of the lake with bow and arrows on their hands. He patiently waited and saw these men wandering repeatedly on the banks. As it was night time, he couldn’t figure them out, but pitied them as they were walking on the lake bund during that dangerous night. He returned back to his place as he was already wet but was still thinking of those two strange young men.
The next morning Blaze woke up and saw that the rains stopped and the sun shining. Anxious about the status of the lake, he came out and understood that there was no flooding the previous night and the bund withstood all the waters. He was too happy and went rushing to the temple to share the news with the priests. The priests were happy and welcomed him inside the temple. This time, Blaze who was in a relaxed state of mind, peacefully entered the temple and accepted the respects from the temple priests.
During that time the sanctum was closed as the Alankaram (decoration) was going on for the deities. Once the doors of the sanctum opened, Blaze was shocked to see the same two young men who were wandering with bow and arrows the previous night along the lake bund, being worshipped. He couldn’t control himself and explained the priests what he saw the previous night. The priests were too happy to hear him and everyone realized that those two young men were Sri Rama and Sri Lakshmana only who have saved the village from the threatening lake.
From then onwards, people fondly started calling Sri Rama here as ‘Eri Kaatha Ramar’. Blaze, as promised, immediately arranged to build the shrine for Sri Janakavalli Thaayaar, which is present at the south western side of the temple. Sri Janakavalli Thaayaar is so beautiful and is decorated with wonderful ornaments. An inscription is still found in the temple revealing that the Thaayaar shrine was built by Colonel Lionel Blaze of East India Company, the then district collector of Chengalpattu.
Rama brief stay in Vipaandakar Ashram:
The legend of this temple is connected to Ramayana period itself. There lived an ancient saint called Sri Vipaandakar in Maduranthakam, performing penance towards Lord Vishnu. He was worshipping the moorthies of Sri Karunakara Perumal along with Sri Bhu Devi and Sri Neela Devi in this place.
During that period, Sri Rama was expelled to the forests where he lost Sri Sita Devi and was going towards Sri Lanka to get her back. Vipaandakar came to know that Sri Rama was moving towards Sri Lanka and had to pass by this forest. Vipaandakar went and invited Sri Rama to his Ashram here and requested him to stay for some time before proceeding. Sri Rama accepted Vipaandakar’s request and stayed for a short while and worshipped Sri Karunakara Perumal along with the Rishi.
While leaving Maduranthakam, Vipaandakar insisted Sri Rama that he should continue the stay for some more periods. Sri Rama told the saint that he was on the mission of defeating Ravana, to bring back Sita Devi and assured him of a long stay and accept the saint’s hospitality on his way back from Lanka.
After killing Ravana, Sri Rama along with Sri Sita and Sri Lakshmana was flying back to Ayodhya on the Pushpaka Vimaanam. As promised to Vipaandakar, Sri Rama stopped on his way at Maduranthakam and got down from the Pushpaka Vimaanam. Sage Vipaandakar had a privilege of having the Dharshan of the Lord Sri Rama, holding the hands of Sri Sita Devi, like a wedding posture. Sri Rama stayed here in the saint’s place for some days and left to Ayodhya. While leaving, Sri Rama carried Sri Karunakara Perumal along with Sri Bhu Devi and Sri Neela Devi with him and was worshipping the Lord at Ayodhya.
Later, many years after Pattabhishekam, Sri Rama directed Sri Hanuman to carry Sri Karunakara Perumal back to Maduranthakam to install and worship the Lord here. Sri Hanuman installed Sri Karunakara Perumal and started worshipping regularly. Once, Sri Rama appeared to Sri Hanuman here in the same posture as how he gave Dharshan (holding Sri Sita’s hand) to saint Vipaandakar.
Hence, the Moolavar Sri Ramar gives Dharshan in an unusual yet rare posture holding Sri Sita’s hand. Sri Lakshmana is also present with them. This is probably the only place where Sri Rama is seen in such posture. There are two Urchavar; Sri Sita, Lakshmana Sametha Sri Kothandaramar and Sri Bhu Devi, Sri Neela Devi Sametha Sri Karunakara Perumal.
The image of Lord Rama is so beautiful and said to be the next best beautiful to Sri Rama at Vaduvoor. Sri Rama here is so beautiful and charming with enchanting smile and divine Thejas.
Ramanujar meeting with Periya Nambigal at this place:
This temple also is also connected to the life of Sri Ramanujar. Sri Ramanujar along with his wife was on his way from Kanchipuram to meet Sri Periya Nambigal at Sri Rangam, as he was directed by Sri Thirukkachi Nambigal to do so and become his disciple. During the same time, Sri Periya Nambigal started from Sri Rangam towards Kanchipuram, in search of Sri Ramanujar, whom he felt would be the right disciple.
As a coincidence both met here at Maduranthakam and Sri Periya Nambigal performed Pancha Samaskaaram to Sri Ramanujar under the Magizham tree of this temple. There is a small Mandapam where Sri Ramanujar undertook Pancha Samaskaaram from Sri Periya Nambigal.
There is a separate shrine for Sri Periya Nambigal and Sri Ramanujar here in this temple. This is said to be the only temple where Sri Ramanujar is seen as a Grahastha (married person) and is seen with white clothing instead of saffron, as seen in other temples.
Amongst Ashtaacharam, Dwayam and Saramaslokam, Ramanuja is said to have been specifically initiated with the ‘Dwayam’ manthram here. Hence, this place is also called ‘Dwayam Valaintha Tirupathi’.